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Thumbprint Cookies

I first had jam-filled thumbprint cookies at an apartment warming party in college. A classmate and friend of mine had moved in upstairs with her boyfriend, and she invited almost all of the vocal majors over to see her new digs. She is an impeccable decorator; while my apartment downstairs was full of mismatched furniture and plastic storage tubs, she had a matching couch and sitting chair set, framed artwork on the walls, a beautiful rug, and even a fireplace grate to disguise the ugliness of the radiator heater. Plus, she threw an adult party; at an age when having a drink meant ordering the cheapest thing at the bar, my friend was serving a signature cocktail at her soiree, with canap├ęs, and best of all, homemade jam-filled thumbprint cookies. There may have been other desserts, but after one bite, I only had eyes for these cookies.

I was too shy back then to ask my friend for her recipe, and so I searched high and low for a knock off of her cookies. I found the Land o’ Lakes version, and with some very light tweaking, came up with my closest approximation of my friend’s to-die-for cookies. I make these for Christmas almost every year, and every time I take my first bite, I am transported back to that wonderful party, full of friends and food and laughter. Make these for your next party; you never know who you may inspire!

Recipe adapted from Land o’ Lakes

2 sticks of butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 preserves (raspberry, cherry, lemon curd, passionfruit curd, fig, etc)


1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
2 to 3 teaspoons of light cream
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together your softened butter, sugar and extracts until light and fluffy. Add in your flour, 1/2 cup at a time, running the mixer on low. Mix until it is completely incorporated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Shape your dough into 1 inch balls. Place them onto a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. With your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill each indentation with about a teaspoon of your preserve of choice.

Bake the cookies for 14 to 18 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown. Let the cookies rest for a minute or two on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Combine your powdered sugar, extracts and 1 teaspoon of light cream into a bowl and whisk until smooth, adding another teaspoon of light cream to loosen the mixture if needed. Drizzle over your cooled cookies.


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